All Courses


Rashkis Elementary School of Chapel Hill: 5th Grade Class

Dates: 26-Apr-2007

Sabbatical Scholar, Joe Fail, worked with an academically advanced 5th grade class to supplement their science coursework.

Computational Phyloinformatics Summer Course 2007

Dates: 9-Jul-2007 ~ 19-Jul-2007

Phylogenetics is key to studying evolution, systematics, comparative genomics, and bioinformatics — phylogenies are now ubiquitous in the biological literature. However, with the growth in computational power and DNA sequencing, and with ever more complex substitution models and analytical methods, it is less and less practical to run simple, one-shot analyses on a personal computer with an off-the-shelf program. As a result, we increasingly rely on custom-scripted analyses or custom-designed computational pipelines, and often on large compute machines or clusters. While books and courses on phylogenetics are common, it is harder to find information on how to script large-scale and complex analyses, or how to write your own scripts and programs. This course aims to address this gap by introducing these skills in a practical, hands-on course at NESCent (National Evolutionary Synthesis Center).

Evolution: Applications in Human Health and Populations

Dates: 1-Dec-2007

Understanding how we have been shaped by evolution can help us understand the modern human condition. Evolutionary biology is making important contributions in the field of human health through studies of the human genome, physiology, lifestyle and interaction with the environment. This symposium focuses on the emerging field of evolutionary medicine which brings together comparative genomics, epidemiology, anthropology and other fields to synthesize a comprehensive view of human health.

PAEMST Systematics Workshop

Dates: 29-Apr-2008

This problem space, Identifying Biocontrol Agents Through Applied Systematics was originally developed for the 2008 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching. The problem set includes background information, tools and resources to explore the introduction of the bud-gall fly as a biocontrol agent for the invasive paperbark in Florida. The emphasis is on using a phylogenetic approach to identify and evaluate potential biocontrol agents.

Tools for Teaching Evolution

Dates: 29-May-2008

This workshop was designed to introduce participants to a collection of educational resources drawn from current evolution research projects. In addition to hands-on introductory sessions with these resources, participants received information about other relevant educational materials from BioQUEST and NESCent, and how to participate in the BioQUEST community.

Evolutionary Biology and Ontologies Workshop

Dates: 20-Jun-2008

The course is organized by NESCent and the National Center for Biomedical Ontologies (NCBO). "The workshop will focus on the application of ontologies in evolutionary biology and related disciplines, with a particular emphasis on studies of the phenotype."

Teaching An Elementary Story of Life

Dates: 14-Jul-2008 ~ 18-Jul-2008

Sponsored by the National Evolution Synthesis Center (NESCent) and Duke University, this workshop consisted of lessons for elementary science teachers and administrators to prepare their students in topics from the NC Standard Course of Study that deal with biology, ecology, and evolution.

Computational Phyloinformatics Summer Course 2008

Dates: 24-Jul-2008 ~ 4-Aug-2008

While books and courses on phylogenetics are common, it is harder to find information on how to script large-scale and complex analyses, or how to write your own scripts and programs. This course aims to address this gap by introducing these skills in a practical, hands-on setting at NESCent. This year's course focuses on hands-on training in Perl, Java, and R, three of the most popular languages in scripting and programming phylogenetic or comparative analysis workflows. The course is structured to allow students with less prior programming exposure to fully benefit from the material being taught.

NABT: Biogeography Symposium

Dates: 7-Oct-2008

Members of the Historical Biogeography working group developed and lead a workshop on biogeography for the classroom at the 2008 NABT conference. The session was organized by NESCent’s EOG, and co-sponsored by NESCent and the National Center for Science Literacy, Education and Technology at the American Museum of Natural History.

NABT: Using Free, Intuitive Software to Explore Mysteries of Evolutionary History in the High School Biology Classroom

Dates: 16-Oct-2008

A workshop introducing an easy to use tool for constructing phylogenies. This workshop was organized by NESCent's EOG and sponsored by the Education Committee of the Society for the Study of Evolution.

NABT Evolution Symposium

Dates: 16-Oct-2008

The 2008 symposium focused on the benefits of applying evolutionary theory in biological sub-disciplines where evolutionary concepts have not traditionally played a prominent role. The four speakers offered examples of successful evolutionary based research in biochemistry, molecular biology and neurobiology. Resources to help educators bring this message back to their students can be found on the CD. The presentations and additional resources may be found with the speaker bios on the symposium website.

Click here for more information.

NABT Evolution Symposium Education Resources Workshop

Dates: 17-Oct-2008

NABT Evolution Symposium Education Resources Workshop description: The workshop provided resources and training to support bringing the symposium materials into the classroom. Presenters from Understanding Evolution, BioQUEST, and NESCent offered hands-on introductions to activities that demonstrate applications of evolution.

Metadata Architectures and Applications

Dates: 17-Nov-2008

Ontology workshop at SICB

Dates: 5-Jan-2009

This is a workshop cosponsored by NESCent on the application of ontologies to comparative biology at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) in Boston, January 2009. Check the Phenoscape website for more information.

Evolution 2009: A Workshop for Educators

Dates: 29-Jun-2009 ~ 1-Jul-2009

Evolution is a unifying theme in biological science. This course is designed to provide an overview of key evolutionary concepts and explore cutting-edge topics in evolutionary biology for instructors at the high school and introductory college level. Evolutionary biologists and educators at NESCent (The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center) will present topics with an emphasis on recent developments and practical applications. The scientific content will be supported by hands on classroom activities, pedagogy demonstrations and information about teaching resources. In addition, participants will learn about NESCent's Evolution Across the Curriculum initiative and contribute to the national conversation on this approach to teaching biology.

An Introduction to Meta-analysis in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Dates: 6-Jul-2009 ~ 10-Jul-2009

The course will cover with what meta-analysis is, where it comes from, some examples of how it has been used in ecology and evolution, and its major strengths and weaknesses as a tool for the quantitative summary of research results. Students will be introduced to issues and methods for gathering data from the scientific literature and how to organize those data for analysis. Students will be encouraged to produce a preliminary meta-analysis on their own data, and will learn how to interpret, evaluate and critique the results.
Deadline for application: March 31, 2009.

Computational Phyloinformatics Summer Course 2009

Dates: 9-Jul-2009 ~ 19-Jul-2009

Phylogenetics is key to studying evolution, systematics, comparative genomics, and bioinformatics - phylogenies are now ubiquitous in the biological literature. However, with the growth in computational power and DNA sequencing, and with ever more complex substitution models and analytical methods, it is less and less practical to run simple, one-shot analyses on a personal computer with an off-the-shelf program. As a result, we increasingly rely on custom-scripted analyses or custom-designed computational pipelines, and often on large compute machines or clusters. While books and courses on phylogenetics are common, it is harder to find information on how to script large-scale and complex analyses, or how to write your own scripts and programs.

This course aims to address this gap by introducing these skills in a practical, hands-on setting at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, near the mouth of the Tagus river in Oeiras, Portugal. This year's course will focus on hands-on training in Perl and SQL and will be structured to accommodate students with less prior programming experience.

Deadline for application: July 3, 2009.

2009 GMOD Summer School - Americas

Dates: 16-Jul-2009 ~ 19-Jul-2009

The 2009 GMOD Summer School - Americas will be held 16-19 July at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) in Durham, North Carolina. This course will focus on installing, configuring and integrating popular GMOD Components.

2009 GMOD Summer School - Europe

Dates: 3-Aug-2009 ~ 6-Aug-2009

The 2009 GMOD Summer School - Europe will be held 3-6 August in Oxford, UK. Like the 2008 GMOD Summer School, this course will focus on installing, configuring and integrating popular GMOD Components.

Applied Phylogenetics Workshop

Dates: 6-Mar-2010 ~ 13-Mar-2010

Regression and Classification Tree Workshop

Dates: 12-Apr-2010 ~ 14-Apr-2010

Regression (continuous data) and Classification Trees (ordinal data) are types of decision tree learning allowing for classifying patterns in complex datasets and are becoming increasingly popular method in evolutionary and ecological research, e.g. extinction risk and body size evolution. The ultimate goal of these approaches is to create a model that predicts the value of a target variable based on several input variables. These approaches differ from traditionally multivariate analyses and clustering. A tree functions in an hierarchical arrangement; data flowing "down" a tree encounter one decision at a time until a terminal node is reached. A particular variable, and only one at a time, enters the calculation only when it is required at a particular decision node. In contrast, in multivariate analyses and clustering all critical variables are input, often yielding complex and uninterpretable results.“Decision trees are popular because they represent information in a way that is intuitive and easy to visualize, and have several other advantageous properties. Preparation of candidate predictors is simplified because predictor variables can be of any type (numeric, binary, categorical, etc.), model outcomes are unaffected by monotone transformations and differing scales of measurement among predictors, and irrelevant predictors are seldom selected. Trees are insensitive to outliers, and can accommodate missing data in predictor variable” Elith et al. (2008, J. of Animal Ecology. The a 3-day workshop will be held at NESCent in the spring by Richard Cutler (Utah State University). The course will provide both theory and applied analytical/software training. The end result is that participants should be provided with a toolkit to utilize regression/classification trees in their own research.

GMOD Summer School - Americas

Dates: 6-May-2010 ~ 9-May-2010

GMOD is the Generic Model Organism Database project, a collection of open source software tools for creating and managing genome-scale biological databases. You can use it to create a small laboratory database of genome annotations, or a large web-accessible community database. GMOD tools are in use at many large and small community databases.

Comparative Methods and Macroevolution In R Summer Short Course

Dates: 17-Jun-2010 ~ 21-Jun-2010

We are pleased to announce an intensive short course on using R to perform comparative methods to be held in Santa Barbara on June 17-21. This course is funded by the National Science Foundation, and a number of stipends to cover or defray travel, room, and board are available to qualified students and post-docs. Topics covered will include an introduction to the R programming language, tree manipulation, independent contrasts and phylogenetic generalized least squares, ancestral state reconstruction, models of character evolution, diversification analyses, and community phylogenetic analysis. If you are interested please send your CV along with a short (maximum 1 page) description of your research interests, background, and reasons for taking the course. We especially encourage applications from graduate students with data sets to analyze. Please contact the co-organizers, Michael Alfaro (michaelalfaro@ucla.edu) and Luke Harmon (lukeh@uidaho.edu) with any questions.

Evolution 2010: A Workshop for Educators

Dates: 21-Jun-2010 ~ 23-Jun-2010

Evolution is a unifying theme in biological science. This course is designed to provide an overview of key evolutionary concepts and explore cutting-edge topics in evolutionary biology for instructors at the high school and introductory college level. Evolutionary biologists and educators at NESCent (The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center) will present topics with an emphasis on recent developments and practical applications. The scientific content will be supported by hands on classroom activities, pedagogy demonstrations and information about teaching resources. In addition, participants will learn about NESCent's Evolution Across the Curriculum initiative and contribute to the national conversation on this approach to teaching biology.

Paleobiology Database Intensive Workshop in Analytical Methods

Dates: 7-Jul-2010 ~ 10-Aug-2010

In 2010 the workshop will be held at Macquarie University in Sydney. It will begin on 7 July, following the Third International Paleontological Congress, and continue through 10 August. It will be supported primarily by the Paleontological Society and NESCent.
Topics will include biochronology, community paleoecology, diversity curves, speciation and extinction, phylogenetics, phenotypic evolution, and morphometrics. Both simulation modelling and data analysis methods will be employed. Training will combine lectures and labs. Participants will be given hands-on instruction in programming using R and taught to use other analytical software. In addition to the workshop coordinator, each week a new instructor will be present. The instructors are expected to be John Alroy, Gene Hunt, Tom Olszewski, David Polly, and Pete Wagner.

Computational Phyloinformatics

Dates: 5-Aug-2010 ~ 17-Aug-2010

The course will provide a hands-on instruction in phyloinformatics using Perl (BioPerl and Bio::Phylo) and SQL (Postgres, NCBI, TreeBASE). This year, Computational Phyloinformatics will be traveling to BGI-Shenzhen. The BGI is China's top genomics institutes and is a leader in large-scale genome sequencing, efficient bioinformatics analyses, and innovative genetic health care research. Please consult the BGI education page.

2011 GMOD Spring Training

Dates: 4-Mar-2011 ~ 12-Mar-2011

The 2011 GMOD Spring Training will be held May 8-12 at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) in Durham, North Carolina, as part of GMOD Americas 2011. Like previous GMOD Schools, this one will focus on installing, configuring and integrating popular GMOD Components. Sessions will be taught by GMOD Component developers and GMOD staff. There is space for 25 participants and admission is competitive.

Apply online: http://www.nescent.org/courses/apply
Application deadline: 1/7/2011

Practical computing for biologists (and other scientists)

Dates: 6-Jun-2011 ~ 15-Jun-2011

This course covers some of the simple but powerful skills that all scientists should know in a world of increasingly complex analyses. This is not a bioinformatics course, although the lessons are applicable to molecular data. The skills are relevant to any subdiscipline where gathering and analyzing moderate to large data sets are involved. The specific sections include working with text files, command-line operations, scripting and Python programming, creating scientific graphics, working with servers (remote login, software installation), and a bit about the web and data-acquisition hardware. This course is timely because biologists and other researchers are expected to analyze larger and more complex data sets, but using inadequate tools like spreadsheets. Although the examples will be shown making use of Mac OSX and its Unix underpinnings, all of the tools discussed are cross-platform and freely available. Participants will be able to take the techniques and skills they learn back to their labs to continue making their own research easier and more effective. The target audience for the course is anyone with data: grad students, post-docs, technicians, and faculty.

Workshop on evolutionary quantitative genetics

Dates: 8-Aug-2011 ~ 13-Aug-2011

In this workshop we will review the basics of theory in the field of evolutionary quantitative genetics and its connections to evolution that is observed at various time scales. Quantitative genetics deals with the inheritance of measurements of traits that are affected by many genes. Quantitative genetic theory for natural populations was developed considerably in the period 1970-90 and up to the present time. It has been applied to a wide range of phenomena including the evolution of differences between the sexes, sexual preferences, life history traits, plasticity of traits, as well as the evolution of body size and other morphological measurements. Textbooks have not kept pace with these developments, and currently few universities offer courses in this subject aimed at evolutionary biologists. There is a need for evolutionary biologists to understand this field because of the ability to collect large amounts of data by computer, the development of statistical methods for changes of traits on evolutionary trees and for changes in a single species through time, and the realization that quantitative characters will not soon be fully explained by genomics. This workshop aims to fill this need by reviewing basic aspects of theory and illustrating how that theory can be tested with data. Participants will learn to use R, an open-source statistical programming language, to build and test evolutionary models. The intended participants for this workshop are graduate students, postdocs, and junior faculty members in evolutionary biology.

Next-gen sequencing: data acquisition, comparative genomics, design and analysis for population genetics, systematics and development

Dates: 15-Aug-2011 ~ 29-Aug-2011

This 2-week course will provide the computational training required for workers in this diverse field and is aimed in particular at second-year graduate students, research fellows and faculty crossing the field into genomics. The course will be embedded within an array of biological questions but it will be focused around specific technical questions such as i) generation of gene-models from related reference genomes or from NGS transcriptomes, ii) variant calling and alternative splicing detection, iii) analyzing differential expression, iv) mapping of eQTL data, v) genome-wide tests for selection, vi) generation and use of genome-wide SNP markers, vii) analysis of metagenomic data, and viii) phylogeny reconstruction from NGS. Instructors from diverse backgrounds will lead students through lectures and practicals designed to give students concrete experience working with a diverse set of analysis tools and techniques. At the end of this course, participants will i) have a concrete understanding of the general power and limitations of NGS, ii) understand which tools should be used and why, and iii) be able to address a biological question of interest using the raw data from the sequencing machine. An added advantage of attending this course will be the creation of a community of researchers familiar with an interoperable set of tools, providing continued support and the potential for collaboration into the future.

Next-gen sequencing: data acquisition, comparative genomics, design and analysis for population genetics, systematics and development

Dates: 11-Jun-2012 ~ 19-Jun-2012

This course will provide computational training required for those working with Next-generation sequencing data and is aimed in particular at senior graduate students, research fellows and faculty that are producing genomic data. The course aims to lower the learning curve and increase familiarity of wet-lab scientists with informatic techniques. We will cover manipulation of next-gen sequencing data, analysis of metagenomic data, phylogeny reconstruction from NGS and RNA quantification with and without a reference genome. We will use tools such as Amazon EC2, Galaxy, Geneious, SAMtools, QIIME, Trinity RNA-Seq, edgeR, TopHat, LOX and PhyDesign.

Anatomy ontologies in evolutionary biology and genetics

Dates: 30-Jul-2012 ~ 3-Aug-2012

Evolutionary research has been revolutionized by the explosion of genetic information available, and anatomy ontologies must play a central crucial in relating this knowledge to observable diversity. Anatomy ontologies and vocabularies are widely used to index data and are critical for relating gene expression and phenotype data across taxa. Within a single species, anatomy ontologies provide scaffolding that interconnects many kinds of observations; across species, they provide evolutionary, developmental, and mechanistic insights. In order for anatomy ontologies to successfully serve all of these purposes, they must be constructed consistently so that they can be utilized and understood by both researcher and software alike. This course aims to teach proper ontology design principles and practices such that anatomical interoperability across evolutionarily disparate taxa is achieved. It further seeks to promote community growth and adoption of ontology-based methods and tools. The subsequent benefit is in the form of shared access to the unique data store of each community (e.g. genetic, genomic, developmental, and evolutionary data). The course covers a basic introduction to ontology design principles and usage, specific ontology considerations for anatomy, application of anatomy ontologies in the context of evolutionary phenotype comparison, and use of anatomy ontologies for image annotation in different taxa. There will be strong emphasis on hands-on exercises that will develop ontology skills and provide exposure to different software applications that are useful in variety of areas of evolutionary biology.

Evolutionary Quantitative genetics

Dates: 6-Aug-2012 ~ 11-Aug-2012

In this workshop we will review the basics of theory in the field of evolutionary quantitative genetics and its connections to evolution that is observed at various time scales. Quantitative genetics deals with the inheritance of measurements of traits that are affected by many genes. Quantitative genetic theory for natural populations was developed considerably in the period 1970-90 and up to the present time. It has been applied to a wide range of phenomena including the evolution of differences between the sexes, sexual preferences, life history traits, plasticity of traits, as well as the evolution of body size and other morphological measurements. Textbooks have not kept pace with these developments, and currently few universities offer courses in this subject aimed at evolutionary biologists. There is a need for evolutionary biologists to understand this field because of the ability to collect large amounts of data by computer, the development of statistical methods for changes of traits on evolutionary trees and for changes in a single species through time, and the realization that quantitative characters will not soon be fully explained by genomics. This workshop aims to fill this need by reviewing basic aspects of theory and illustrating how that theory can be tested with data. Participants will learn to use R, an open-source statistical programming language, to build and test evolutionary models. The intended participants for this workshop are graduate students, postdocs, and junior faculty members in evolutionary biology.

Evolution 2012 - A Workshop For Educators

Dates: 13-Aug-2012 ~ 15-Aug-2012

Evolution is a unifying theme in biological science. This course is designed to provide an overview of key evolutionary concepts and explore cutting-edge topics in evolutionary biology for instructors at the high school and introductory college level. Evolutionary biologists and educators at NESCent (The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center) will present topics with an emphasis on recent developments and practical applications. The scientific content will be supported by hands on classroom activities, pedagogy demonstrations and information about teaching resources.

GMOD Summer Training 2012

Dates: 25-Aug-2012 ~ 29-Aug-2012

NESCent Academy - Next-gen sequencing: data acquisition, comparative genomics, design and analysis for population genetics, systematics and development

Dates: 3-Jun-2013 ~ 9-Jun-2013

NESCent Academy - Next-gen sequencing: data acquisition, comparative genomics, design and analysis for population genetics, systematics and development

Evolution 2013 - A Workshop for Educators

Dates: 17-Jun-2013 ~ 19-Jun-2013

Evolution is a unifying theme in biological science. This course is designed to provide an overview of key evolutionary concepts and explore cutting-edge topics in evolutionary biology for instructors at the high school and introductory college level. Evolutionary biologists and educators at NESCent (The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center) and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences will present topics with an emphasis on recent developments and practical applications. The scientific content will be supported by hands on classroom activities, pedagogy demonstrations and information about teaching resources.

GMOD Summer School

Dates: 19-Jul-2013 ~ 23-Jul-2013

Ontologies for evolutionary biology

Dates: 29-Jul-2013 ~ 2-Aug-2013

Evolutionary research has been revolutionized by the explosion of genetic information available, and ontologies must play a central crucial in relating this knowledge to observable diversity. Ontologies provide scaffolding that interconnects many kinds of observations; across species, they provide evolutionary, developmental, and mechanistic insights. In this course, we will discuss the integration points between ontologies including anatomy, phenotype, ecology, and biodiversity efforts; on partnerships between domain experts and expert ontologists; and on descriptions of various tools and tricks to handle ontologies and ontology-annotated data in the context of evolutionary biology.

NESCent Academy Evolutionary Quantitative Genetics Course

Dates: 5-Aug-2013 ~ 10-Aug-2013

Quantitative genetics deals with the inheritance of measurements of traits that are affected by many genes. Developments in the field are not reflected in textbooks and available courses aimed at evolutionary biologists. This workshop will review the basics of theory in the field of evolutionary quantitative genetics, its connections to evolution that is observed at various time scales and illustrate how that theory can be tested with data. Participants will learn to use R, an open-source statistical programming language, to build and test evolutionary models

AnthroTree Workshop

Dates: 27-May-2014 ~ 1-Jun-2014

Evo101 - A Workshop for High School Educators

Dates: 18-Jun-2014 ~ 20-Jun-2014

Aimed at instructors at the high school level, this workshop is designed to address all of those questions by providing an overview of key evolutionary concepts and mechanisms, and exploring cutting-edge topics in evolutionary science. Evolutionary biologists and educators at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (NCMNS) will present topics with an emphasis on recent developments and practical applications. The scientific content will be supported by hands on classroom activities, pedagogy demonstrations and information about teaching resources.

Next-generation Sequencing Data for Phylogenetics and Phylogeography

Dates: 14-Jul-2014 ~ 20-Jul-2014

This course focuses on emerging methods for collecting and analyzing high throughput sequencing data for phylogenetics and phylogeography

Paleobiological and Phylogenetic Approaches to Macroevolution

Dates: 22-Jul-2014 ~ 29-Jul-2014

This course will teach participants to use fossil and phylogenetic data to analyze macroevolutionary patterns using traditional paleobiological stratigraphic methods, phylogenetic comparative methods and combined fossil and tree approaches. Macroevolutionary research is currently split into two quite isolated branches, one based on fossils and the other on extant taxa and phylogenies. Increasingly,evolutionary biologists in both camps are realizing that, only by combining neontological and paleontological data and approaches, can a new, and more powerful integrative macroevolution emerge. Unfortunately, these two disciplines utilize very different data and quantitative methods. Therefore to truly initiate a synthesis of these two approaches we need to train students and researchers to understand the intricacies of both fossil and phylogenetic data, and the methods necessary to integrate them.

NESCent Academy Course: Phylogenetic Analysis Using RevBayes

Dates: 25-Aug-2014 ~ 30-Aug-2014

This course will provide foundational knowledge in complex models for phylogenetic inference. Our focus will be primarily on Bayesian inference using MCMC. Each component of the course will be accompanied by a hands-on tutorial using cutting-edge phylogenetic inference software. Specifically, we will use this course to introduce and build a user base for RevBayes. RevBayes is a rich statistical package for inference of evolutionary parameters (open source: http://sourceforge.net/projects/revbayes/). This program coupled with detailed lectures on phylogenetic theory and applications will provide a rich learning environment for Ph.D. students and postdocs in evolutionary biology.


The NESCent Academy

Starting in 2011, all courses are being offered through the NESCent Academy. The Academy is a new, community-driven process for developing and offering short post-graduate courses in synthetic evolutionary science, as well as evolutionary biology workshops for educators. We asked you, the evolutionary biology community, to suggest course ideas, vote on your ideas and submit full proposals.